New Product Adoption: Are You Ahead of the Curve? (And What To Do if Not Everyone Else Is)

by Erica Mitchell | January 30 2023

The release of any new phone model reveals much about where people fall on the product adoption curve. There are the camp-outside-the-store-since-midnight enthusiasts all the way to the I-like-my-flip-phone skeptics. All of us fall along the curve somewhere and we may fall into different segments of the curve ourselves, depending on the product. When it comes to the adoption of medical innovations, consumers fall into the same basic categories. This can lead to complex negotiations when one person at a facility is an enthusiast while another important decision-maker is a skeptic. What can we do to stay ahead of the curve - the most important place to be when new research and innovations can be life saving - and find a way to keep everyone satisfied?

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Microbrews and Microbiology

by Erica Mitchell | January 25 2023

This blog has covered many aspects of microbiology, from germs that make us sick, to the bacteria that help us live. Today’s post explores microorganisms that are not vital to our survival, but perhaps make life a little livelier. Those microorganisms are the ones that bring us beer.

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SCOBY: Microbiology's Odd Couple

by Erica Mitchell | January 18 2023

A seismic shift in human civilization occurred when we learned how to plant and harvest our own food. The advent of agriculture meant access to more plentiful and more reliable food than a hunter-gatherer lifestyle could ever provide. However, as any amateur gardener knows, agriculture also means your whole crop is ready at around the same time. In order to make a crop full of produce last longer, people needed to discover ways to keep their harvest from going bad. Meat could be salted or smoked, fruit could be dried or cooked, but for everything else, there was fermentation. And for fermentation, you need microbiology's Odd Couple.

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Is Nurse Burnout More Damaging than Nurse Strikes?

by Erica Mitchell | January 13 2023

In recent weeks, nurses in various health systems in NYC have gone on strike to put pressure on their employers to listen to their concerns and offer solutions. Understandably, public concern is directed at patient outcomes: Who is taking care of the patients? Do patients receive substandard care during a strike? Why would nurses put their patients at risk like this? Those of us who do not know what it is like to work as a nurse can learn a lot by paying attention to not only what the nurses are saying, but also the statistics that back them up. The data tells us that when hospitals nurses are understaffed and underpaid, patients suffer. As a result, in some health systems, not making changes to nurse work environment (either through strike action or without) has worse patient outcomes.

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Etymology and Microbiology: Words Matter

by Erica Mitchell | January 11 2023

Language is by far the most astonishing difference between humans and all other life on Earth. The richness, diversity, prevalence and pervasiveness of language and communication throughout all cultures in every part of the world attests to the critical connection between words and thought, words and culture, and words and survival. As humans discovered, explained, or invented, they built upon familiar concepts and familiar terms, leading to a language that evolved alongside civilization. Today's post will explore the fascinating history of some of the key terms in microbiology, and reveal how science and language helped each other along into the modern era.

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Social Determinants of Health and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | January 9 2023

Medical researchers have recently placed more emphasis on the non-medical conditions that impact patient health and outcomes. Collectively known as social determinants of health (SDOH), these are the conditions surrounding birth, growth, living, working, and aging. The distribution of money, power, and resources play heavily into the formula: Those lacking stable access to any (or all) of these factors see impacts on health, including exposure to and infection by disease-causing pathogens. In today's post, we'll explore the intersection of SDOH and infection control and prevention, and describe some of the ways today's health system is trying to address this issue.

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Electronic Health Records and Infection Control

by Erica Mitchell | January 4 2023

The medical chart is set to become a thing of the past. Those thick folders containing your medical history are steadily being replaced by electronic health records, or EHR. The Veteran's Administration initiated the first large-scale implementation of these computerized files in the 1970s, but the concept was slow to catch on in general practice until the advent of a combination of powerful and affordable hardware, fast and secure internet, and reliable and seemingly endless cloud storage capabilities. Since then, EHR systems have been shown to make physician visits faster, help coordinate care between multiple offices, and improve health outcomes. Can EHR bring the same success to the fight against hospital acquired infections?

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